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Ottobre 2016
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may haveeither about the English language or our articles. Write to us at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

I’m an avid reader of Speak Up. I think that it’s an excellent magazine, but I’m afraid to say that these compliments don’t apply to Rachel Roberts’ column, Italy vs Britain. Personally, I’m irritated by the fact that she uses the pages of Speak Up to conduct a personal battle that offends the dignity of the Italian people. This denigration has got to stop. Basta! The Italians aren’t inferior to anyone, least of all the British. I think it would be better if  Ms. Roberts spent her time doing a bit of self-analysis. Oh, sorry, I forgot: the British are superior, aren’t they?
Massimo Graziani

Thank you for your email. It’s always good to receive feedback, especially when it allows me to clear up a few points. First of all, if you read the articles carefully, you will see that there is never any criticism of Italian culture, still less an attempt to show British culture in a superior light. The aim of these articles is to understand why there are some things about life in Italy that Brits find hard to swallow - and vice versa, of course. This aim was explained in the first two introductory articles. Unfortunately, I have such a limited space, that it is not possible to repeat the concept in each article.
So, what exactly are the things that make us grumble about each other? Very simply it’s a question of cultural values; those values that are established in each of us before the age of 10. They are the things we take for granted as “right” or “correct.” Italians and British people share many of these values, which is why we usually get on very well. There are also many differences, which are the cause of the strong attraction that exists between the two cultures. British people come to Italy in search of warmth, passion, flexibility etc. and Italians often go to the UK in search of what they perceive as a greater sense of order, meritocracy and better chances to make something of life. Then there are the cultural values that are so different that they can cause friction between us – and this is where we come to our difficulties and misunderstandings. Up to now we have focused on the things that bother British people and I’ve given some tips to help my compatriots live better in the country we love. But fear not, Mr. Graziani, we will be taking a very close look at the other side of the coin, and I have a veritable arsenal of tips to help Italians cope in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Rachel Roberts

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